SpaceX wants to reduce the amount of debris in case of Dragon spacecraft crash

When the SpaceX-built Dragon spacecraft is deorbited, its trunk section doesn’t burn up completely, but forms quite large pieces of debris. This raises concerns that they will harm earth objects. Specialists want to change this thanks to a new procedure for its disposal.

A piece of debris from the trunk section of the Dragon spacecraft. Source:

Falling Dragon debris

Specialists from SpaceX and NASA want to reduce the amount of debris of the Dragon spacecraft when it is removed from orbit. Theoretically, when this happens, the trunk section should burn up completely in the atmosphere, leaving behind only small pieces of debris.

However, operational experience shows that this is not the case and there is still a problem with the Crew Dragon’s trunk section. Large chunks of it were found in Australia back in 2022 after the Crew-1 mission. Then the same thing happened after Ax-3 and in North Carolina after Crew-7.

All of this raises understandable concerns that they will harm people or homes. At the same time, the computer modeling carried out before the first demonstration missions did not foresee such a problem. However, it is now clear that it exists, although SpaceX tried to hide it after finding debris in Australia.

How to make Crew Dragon’s de-orbit safe

Now specialists are working on making the fall of the remains of Crew Dragon safe. And there is already a solution to this problem. Now the whole point is that the trunk section separates as soon as the separation from the station takes place. Therefore, it remains in orbit for some time and subsequently enters the atmosphere uncontrollably.

This is what causes large chunks of it to reach the Earth as one. A modified procedure during which the spacecraft and its trunk section would be deorbited as a single unit would completely remedy the situation. However, this requires additional fuel costs, and researchers are now thinking about how best to implement this procedure.

Other problems with debris

Meanwhile, the Crew Dragon’s trunk section is not the only source of debris. On March 8 of this year, the situation with the spent battery of the ISS received considerable publicity. It did not burn up completely on re-entry and a large chunk of it damaged a private home in Naples, Florida.

According to international space agreements, the U.S. government in this case is fully responsible for damages caused by falling debris. However, since in this case the incident occurred within the United States, the internal laws of the country govern everything. Attorneys for the family whose home was damaged filed an $80,000 lawsuit against the government agencies, and now everyone is waiting to see how the case ends.

Meanwhile, someone has already found a way to capitalize on the wreckage. The remains of a Crew-7 trunk section fell on a campground. And now the owners have put them on display and are using them as tourist bait.

According to